Why Another Podcast?

For those who haven’t heard, I (with my collaborator Rob Baier) started the #DebateMath Podcast recently. The first episode two episodes are scheduled to air at the end of January 2022!

I wanted to take a moment to share some of the thinking behind the creation of this podcast, explore why we really wanted and needed to do this. There are four main reasons behind this podcast.

  1. We need more than a speech (sometimes). I love attending conferences and listening to speakers, but so often we just hear one side of an idea. Sometimes, I want (and need) to hear multiple view points on an idea to really understand it, to think about the implications and consequences. I don’t want teachers to jump on a new trend just because one speaker sounded sexy. I want teachers to hear multiple perspectives as they ponder what is best for their classroom and make even more informed decisions. Additionally, when we feel strongly about an idea, in this current climate, it is important to be prepared for push-back. Hearing two sides in a debate can help us prepare for the counterarguments we may get from colleagues, parents, admin, or students. Also, through the activity of debate, listeners and speakers are engaged because there’s a “competitive” aspect to it. You want to know who will “win” or be most convincing. So you can’t help but lean in a little more.
  2. We must explore nuance. I see so many ideas passed around on social media, and initially they sound good. However, we don’t always have the time or space to think through all the consequences, to think through all the nuance. I think we need to take more good ideas with a grain of salt. Also, when something is working well for someone else, there are so many things which led up to that new pedagogical move, that new technique or activity, that could be easily overlooked. We need to unpack all the layers about what made this particular idea work at this time and place, and how would it work for us in our own, unique (different) setting.
  3. The voice can provide more colors of tone. In listening to podcasts and recording our own, I’ve seen how much more can be expressed in the tone of an argument through the voice than in writing. There are good ideas shared in writing both in blogs and on social media, but without the tone (serious, sarcastic, or whatever), the message can easily get confused. Listening to another human explain in the audio (plus there will be YouTube videos of the episodes as well) adds so much more detail and clarity. I’ve read about how humans have evolved to think socially, and listening to a podcast provides a version of this.
  4. Podcasts are powerful. I listen to so many podcasts, when I’m driving to/from work, when I’m on the treadmill at the gym, when I’m alone at home and cleaning up, etc. It’s a great way for me to listen and think while doing simple tasks. We can listen to them in so many places and learn so much along the way. And podcasts can be as long as they need to be. We are not making TV shows that all have to be a certain length. Some of our debates may only be 20 minutes, some may be longer. Rob and I have been doing our best to give enough time to flesh out the sides of a debate, but not to let it go on too long. Additionally, podcasts can stay relevant. We are recording them once a month, and they can reflect current trends and topics that are up for debate!

Our goal is to release one episode a month. Rob and I are doing this in our spare time as educators, and we want to take time and care with each episode to give everyone something great to listen to. It is a lot of work to coordinate people/teams on two sides of a debate, give them time and help to prepare for the debate, and then actually do a live recording. But we enjoy it! It just will take us time to do one episode at at time.

I have to note that it has been a pleasure having chats with educators who are potential guests and asking them what they are passionate about. It has been wonderful to hear topics come up that I never thought some people were deeply pondering. And I’m excited that these passions can be shared with listeners on the podcast.

We are always looking for new guests and topics, too. We are slow moving, but anyone can suggest a name or topic idea on the website: debatemath.com.

I am so looking forward to putting this out in the world soon. I hope my fellow math educators will enjoy. Hope you subscribe ASAP on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts so you don’t miss one episode! And follow the Twitter handle @DebateMathPod and #DebateMathPod so you can get all the updates, join in the follow up conversations, and vote for your “winner” of each debate!

ps. A special “Episode 0” will be the first one, airing January 20, 2022. Enjoy!

pps. When I listen to podcasts, I usually play them at 1.25 or 1.5 speed to get through them a little faster. I’m not sure how ours will sound sped up, but it’s an option for those who are short on time!


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